BOTHELL, Wash. -- Seven days ago, Bothell City Manager Bob Stowe was on vacation in Mexico being fired from his job. Tuesday, though he again was absent from council chambers, Stowe's supporters filled the room to question the move and demand transparency.
"We were on a train, and they threw the conductor off," commented resident Leigh Henderson, a critic of the firing, "(Stowe) was hijacked. Completely hijacked."
Stowe is credited with helping facilitate much of the growth Bothell has seen recently. He was city manager for 11 years.
Mayor Andy Rheaume did not give a reason for the move, besides the need for a "change in leadership." It does, however, come after an extremely contentious election and following the controversy involving the proposal to develop Wayne Golf Course, and former Mayor Josh Freed's involvement.
The most recent election removed some of what many in the community considered a pro-development council.
Freed, now a councilman led the criticism last week. Specifically, he wondered why Mayor Rheaume sought outside counsel on this decision before it was made, rather than consulting Bothell's own city attorney.
Mayor Rheaume acknowledged Stowe's positive work. The decision, he said, was not about his performance, but rather his management style.
"I think it's more a change in leadership," said Rheaume, "It's not uncommon when you have a shift of people on council to seek a different city manager."
Stowe is currently on paid administrative leave.